Properly Tiled

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin Lahners

At the opening of our lodges in Illinois, there is the following exchange:

WM: “Brother Junior Deacon, The first great care of Masons when convened?”

Junior Deacon: “To see that the lodge is tiled.”

WM: “You will perform that duty and inform the Tyler that I am about to open BLANK Lodge Number 111, direct him to take due notice and tile accordingly.”

Junior Deacon performs that duty, he returns to his chair, and reports: “The Lodge is Tiled, Worshipful.”

WM: “How Tiled?”

Junior Deacon: “By a Master Mason, armed with the implement of his office.”

WM: “The Tyler’s Station?”

Junior Deacon: “Outside the inner door, with a drawn sword in hand.”

WM: “To guard against the approach of Cowans and Eavesdroppers and see that none pass or repass but such as are duly qualified and have permission.”

Before you decide to email me about revealing the ritual, I want you to know that the Illinois book of Standard Work is not ciphered, and anyone happening upon one would be able to know this part of the ritual, as only the modes of recognition and passwords are not revealed within it. Since it is not ciphered, I have no issue with revealing it here.

Many of our brethren have no problem bringing up the landmarks of Freemasonry whenever someone tries to discuss allowing atheists or women to be Freemasons, but they don’t think twice about violating the 11th landmark which reads: “THE NECESSITY THAT EVERY LODGE, WHEN CONGREGATED, SHOULD BE DULY TILED, is an important Landmark of the Institution, which is never neglected. The necessity of this law arises from the esoteric character of Freemasonry. As a secret Institution, its portals must of course be guarded from the intrusion of the profane, and such a law must therefore always have been in force from the very beginning of the Order. It is therefore properly classed among the most ancient Landmarks. The office of Tiler is wholly independent of any special enactment of Grand or Subordinate Lodges, although these may and do prescribe for him additional duties, which vary in different jurisdictions. But the duty of guarding the door, and keeping off cowans and eavesdroppers, is an ancient one, which constitutes a Landmark for his government.”

What if I told you that a majority of you have violated this landmark time and time again? And I told you that you are contributing to our lodges not being properly tiled. And you have revealed the secrets or Freemasonry over and over and over again, and that you don’t even realize that you have been allowing cowans and eavesdroppers into the lodge room. You’d think I was crazy.

How many of you have had this eerie experience? You’re having a discussion with someone. You look at social media, Facebook is particularly notorious for this, and you see an ad for something that came up in the discussion. I’ve had it happen, time and time and time again. Many of you might not make the connection, many of you might, but the issue is that when you install applications on your phone, and grant them permission to use your microphone, and you carry that phone into the lodge room, you have just allowed cowans and eavesdroppers to enter a tiled lodge. You have done everything that I have just accused you of above.

By this time, I’m pretty sure that most of us in the era of smart phones have violated our obligation to “always conceal and never reveal any of the secret arts, parts or points of the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry which have heretofore, may at this time, or shall at any future period be communicated as such to any person or persons whomsoever.” Every time we bring a smartphone into the lodge, we are revealing the secret arts, parts or points of the hidden mysteries of Freemasonry to the profane. Don’t believe me? Read this:

This is why I found some of the arguments against having virtual meetings so hypocritical. There was a fear among brethren about not being able to tile the online meeting properly. That essentially, we couldn’t insure that the profane wouldn’t infiltrate our online meetings and learn our “secrets”. While these secrets have been widely available on the internet since its invention, that didn’t deter the arguments. Funny that I’ve never heard any similar arguments regarding the use of smartphones in the lodge, especially because they are recording our “secrets”.

We should always remind ourselves of the ritual which is given when the Tyler is installed into his office. "As the sword is placed in the hands of the Tyler to enable him effectually to guard against the approach of cowans and eavesdroppers, and suffer none to pass or re-pass except such as are duly qualified, so it should admonish us to set a guard over our thoughts, a watch at our lips, and post a sentinel over our actions; thereby preventing the approach of every unworthy thought or deed, and preserving consciences void of offense towards God and towards man." How many of us are remembering these words when we are on our phones, hastily replying to something on social media? I dare say that if we can’t be trusted enough to have alcohol allowed in our Lodge buildings, for fear of how we might act, then why are we trusted with our mobile devices inside of the lodge room where anyone could easily take a video of our proceedings?

If we want to properly tile our lodges, we need to keep our mobile devices outside of it. The Tyler should be collecting them as we enter, much like he insures we are properly clothed when entering the lodge room and he guards the west gate. The fact of the matter is that it’s difficult enough for the Tyler to keep the influences of the profane world outside of the lodge room. It’s even more difficult for the Worshipful Master to run a meeting when everyone is staring at their cellphone. We need to start remembering that there is etiquette to be followed during our events, and that Masonic etiquette should dictate that we should be divested of our phones prior to our entry into the lodge room. It’s the only way to make sure our lodges are properly tiled.

~DALWB Darin A. Lahners is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Ogden Lodge No. 754 (IL), and of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). You can reach him by email at    

1 comment:

  1. I believe that this is overly cautious. Unless (a) there is malware on the phone or (b) you have apps like Google Home permitted to use the microphone when not summoned, this should not be a problem. As far as maliciously taking audio or video recordings, We all need our calendars open when the lodge is conducting business.


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